Kirk MacDonald | Generations (feat. Harold Mabern, Virginia MacDonald, Neil Swainson and Andre White)

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Generations (feat. Harold Mabern, Virginia MacDonald, Neil Swainson and Andre White)

by Kirk MacDonald

Celebrated Canadian saxophonist and 2-time Juno Award winner Kirk MacDonald hosts legendary pianist Harold Mabern, Canadian greats, Neil Swainson & Andre White, & up & coming clarinetist Virginia MacDonald in a program of classic ballads & standards.
Genre: Jazz: Mainstream Jazz
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. All the Way (feat. Harold Mabern, Neil Swainson & André White)
7:34 $0.99
2. Winter Sweet (feat. Harold Mabern, Neil Swainson & André White)
6:25 $0.99
3. Only Child (feat. Harold Mabern, Neil Swainson & André White)
5:22 $0.99
4. I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face (feat. Harold Mabern, Neil Swainson & André White)
5:16 $0.99
5. La Mesha (feat. Harold Mabern, Virginia MacDonald, Neil Swainson & André White)
6:29 $0.99
6. I Wish I Knew (feat. Harold Mabern, Virginia MacDonald, Neil Swainson & André White)
5:53 $0.99
7. Skylark (feat. Harold Mabern, Virginia MacDonald, Neil Swainson & André White)
6:51 $0.99
8. Peace (feat. Harold Mabern, Virginia MacDonald, Neil Swainson & André White)
7:06 $0.99
9. Emily (feat. Harold Mabern, Neil Swainson & André White)
5:01 $0.99
10. Lush Life (feat. Harold Mabern, Neil Swainson & André White)
7:43 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
"When Kirk sent this music to me, I took a look at the list of artists and compositions and immediately thought Generations!

There’s MacDonald himself, heard here on perhaps his fiftieth recording over some forty years as a pro. Kirk is solidly in the middle-maturity of the three generations represented here, as are bassist Neil Swainson and drummer André White: artists at the top of the game.

Then, there’s Harold Mabern. Entering his ninth decade as the recording was made, he shows the encompassing reach of jazz from the bluesy sounds of Memphis to today’s active scene.

And finally, the youngest, Virginia Frigault-MacDonald, Kirk’s clarinetist daughter, barely into her third decade, making her world-level recording debut here on four tracks and showing no deference to anyone. She’s her own woman, her own artist, as her assured featured interpretation of Skylark shows.

Mention of that wonderful melody from 1941 (composed when Mabern was just getting interested in playing) brings me to the most pleasant choice of music, and the total grasp these musicians have of the range of music Kirk has chosen to play. Represented are quality pop standards All The Way, I Wish I Knew, I’ve Grown Accustomed To Her Face and Emily, the wonderful Johnny Mandel waltz that bridges pop and jazz because of its source.

Billy Strayhorn’s beautiful Lush Life has jumped over from jazz to pop despite its complexity, and the list includes other jazz compositions less well-known to the wide public; Horace Silver’s Peace, Only Child by Bill Evans, and Kenny Dorham’s melancholy La Mesha as well as fellow Canadian Kenny Wheeler’s Winter Suite. (Kirk once recorded that composition with Kenny, as a member of the Maritime Jazz Orchestra.)

Harold Mabern has always impressed me as someone who likes the instrument and loves using his massive hands to sometimes aggressively pull, sometimes seduce melodies from a piano. A very supportive accompanist, feeding just the right thing behind a soloist, Harold plays very pianistically, ramping up his chops on things like the intro to I’ve Grown Accustomed, where he also seems to channel Errol Garner. And throughout his career, Harold seems to have loved playing with tenor saxists, and this session adds to that impression.

Foundation first is the over-riding principle for making anything, and Kirk has brought together two great ‘builders’ here: Neil Swainson, who has become my favourite bassist over my six decades plus of jazz auditing; and André White on drums. He is also a world class pianist, which may explain his sensitive playing here, understanding the whole picture.

The two decades of jazz’s second century has shown more than a bit of “what now?” and while this single release is not going to be the answer to the question, it certainly shows one direction that can be taken. A respect for its own traditions as an apprenticeship concern (learn from your elders) and using your own creations (jazz players are great composers, too!) can show where you come from, and where you’re heading.

Kirk and crew seem to me to have crystallized that idea with this Generations release, and it’s good to have such signposts when you’re on such a journey as jazz has been."

Ted O’Reilly is a mostly-retired jazz broadcaster and producer who has listened to, and loved the music for more than sixty years.



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